Marc Andreessen's Perfect Elevator Pitch

Last Updated Apr 3, 2009 9:47 AM EDT

Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape, has written the perfect elevator pitch for his recent start-up Ning. He just doesn't know it yet.

But Babak Nivi recognizes a punchy pitch when he encounters it. So he combined the salient points from Andreessen's recent writings about Ning to craft an exemplar elevator endorsement. Read his How to Write an Elevator Pitch on Harvard Business Publishing to see the perfect pitch Nivi created out of Andreessen's raw ingredients.

According to Nivi, your sales message must answer the following questions:

  • What's the high concept pitch?
  • Who is the customer?
  • How does the product help the customer?
  • What's the metaphor?
  • What's the big problem or opportunity?
  • Does the idea have traction? What's the social proof?
  • What's the team's track record and fit with the potential investor?
  • What's the call to action?
Who Needs a Business Plan?
Nivi declares that "with a good introduction and elevator pitch, you don't really need a business plan or executive summary." Um, we won't go that far. But a sales presentation you can make to a trapped moneybags between the first and eighth floors is always worthwhile to have on hand.

What's the best elevator pitch you've heard or given?

My BNET colleague Geoffrey James offers his own skillful analysis on the subject in How to Rewrite an Elevator Pitch.

(Elevator image by DerrickT, CC 2.0)

  • Sean Silverthorne

    Sean Silverthorne is the editor of HBS Working Knowledge, which provides a first look at the research and ideas of Harvard Business School faculty. Working Knowledge, which won a Webby award in 2007, currently records 4 million unique visitors a year. He has been with HBS since 2001.

    Silverthorne has 28 years experience in print and online journalism. Before arriving at HBS, he was a senior editor at CNET and executive editor of ZDNET News. While at At Ziff-Davis, Silverthorne also worked on the daily technology TV show The Site, and was a senior editor at PC Week Inside, which chronicled the business of the technology industry. He has held several reporting and editing roles on a variety of newspapers, and was Investor Business Daily's first journalist based in Silicon Valley.